It’s not just artists and writers who need to be creative – whether it’s an idea for a new product or an innovative way to solve a business problem, everyone needs to get creative in their professional lives.
“We are rapidly entering an era of creative intensification. Companies that do not foster a creative environment will find it difficult to compete with companies that do,” said William Childs, director of marketing and communications at Trifecta Technologies, Inc., in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Bill spoke about using creativity in the workplace with the staff of Muhlenberg College, also in Allentown, during the college’s recent Staff Development Day.
“Everybody can use a little creativity in their work environment and personal life,” said Molly Brown, director of marketing and public relations at the college’s Wescoe School of Continuing Education.
Companies are finding that investing in a creative culture can have a big payoff. Recently, at Sylvania, several thousand employees took a 40-hour course in creative problem solving. The return on investment? $20 for every $1 spent (Source: Arthur VanGundy, 2005).
“The world needs people who know how to think differently and who can solve problems in new and unique ways. That’s where creativity comes in,” Bill said.
A two-year, in-house creativity course at General Electric resulted in a 60% increase in patentable concepts, while creativity-training participants at Pittsburgh Plate Glass showed a 300% increase in viable ideas compared with those who didn’t take the course (VanGundy, 2005).
“For innovation to truly flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together — exchanging knowledge, ideas, and shaping the direction of the company’s future.” said Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work.
Tips on being more creative
According to Bill, four important attributes to consider when beginning to embrace creativity are:
- Wonderment – The ability to retain a childlike curiosity with the world
- Intellectual Courage – The willingness to go beyond the conventional
- Relaxation – Taking time to ponder and daydream
- Motivation – Being willing and ready to record one’s thoughts and to have the conviction to challenge the status quo
Because creativity is about input, not output, being open to more experiences is at the heart of leading a more creative life, Bill said. It’s about being willing to seek out experiences that will expand your comfort zone – getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“It all comes down to a willingness to not accept mediocrity,” Bill said. “It’s about the ability to embrace a mindset that is constantly on the lookout for new experiences, and turning those experiences into new ideas or innovations that foster growth both personally and professionally.”